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Mountain Madness Climber

A Turn for Better Weather in Ecuador

The head­wall on Cayambe

All pho­tos by Andrea Hilderbrand

You may have been fol­low­ing our recent trips in Ecuador where our teams have been con­front­ed with some unfa­vor­able weath­er on the sum­mits of Cotopaxi and Chimb­o­ra­zo. La Niña has been mak­ing sum­mit­ing attempts dif­fi­cult in Ecuador this year, extend­ing the wet sea­son longer than usu­al. How­ev­er, a Moun­tain Mad­ness group of 8 and their two guides, Ossy and Gas­par, sum­mit­ed Cayambe and Cotopaxi this January!

Andrea on the sum­mit of Cayambe with Anti­sana in the background. 

The trip launched on Jan­u­ary 16th with a Glac­i­er Moun­taineer­ing Course on the slopes of Cayambe with Gas­par Navar­rete and four climbers. To pre­pare them for the sum­mit climbs, they were instruct­ed in the basics of moun­taineer­ing with snow climb­ing, ice axe posi­tion­ing, cram­pon tech­niques, self arrest tech­niques, crevasse res­cue prac­tice, nav­i­ga­tion and rope management.

Feed­ing the llamas!

Four oth­er climbers joined them on Jan­u­ary 19th to begin the sum­mit attempt of Cayambe. They were met with good weath­er con­di­tions and every­one was healthy and feel­ing great! All eight climbers and both guides reached the sum­mit on Jan­u­ary 25th.

Tam­bopaxi Hut with Cotopaxi in the distance.

Sev­er­al days lat­er, the group head­ed towards Tam­bopaxi in prepa­ra­tion for their sum­mit push on Cotopaxi. Good weath­er, strength and health fol­lowed the group up to the sum­mit on climber Tim Carey’s birth­day! What a great way to cel­e­brate! The weath­er was beau­ti­ful and the clear skies gave them great views from the summit. 

Ossy, Andrea, Rudy and Mike at the sum­mit of Cotopaxi! 

These two suc­cess­ful and reward­ing sum­mits were enough for two of our climbers, who decid­ed to return to warmer tem­per­a­tures and relax. The rest of the group start­ed out on Chimb­o­ra­zo a cou­ple days lat­er, but due to a crusty lay­er over hard ice at 18,600 feet, the group had to turn back. They got back to the Whym­per Hut ear­ly in the morn­ing and drove back to Quito. On the way, they stopped in Sel­va Ale­gre for some deli­cious guinea pig, one of the most tra­di­tion­al dish­es in the Ecuado­ri­an highlands! 

We have one Ecuador trip left for the sea­son, depart­ing on Feb­ru­ary 25th! If you can’t make it with us in Feb­ru­ary, the South Amer­i­ca sea­son reopens in May with climbs and treks all over Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. See you on the mountain!